Don’t view the completion of your security upgrade project as crossing the finish line.

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed some of the common missteps we see schools make when undertaking significant security upgrade projects. In our first post on this topic, we discussed our recommendation that schools avoid identifying security solutions before they have identified their security challenges. In the following post, we recommended that schools avoid employing a “one size fits all” approach to their security solutions. Unique challenges require unique solutions.

As we end this series of posts, our final guidance is this: Avoid viewing the completion of your security upgrade project as any type of finish line. Instead, we recommend you view the completion of your security upgrade project as a starting off point.

Although completing these projects are significant milestones, we recommend administrators immediately transition to identifying the additional follow-up actions that need to be taken to ensure your school receives the full benefit from these upgrades. We recommend asking yourself the following questions to help identity what those follow-up actions might be:

  • Are there any adjustments to operating or emergency procedures that need to be made?
  • Has an auditing and maintenance schedule been established for any new technology?
  • Is there any training that needs to be conducted for staff or students as a result of this project?

Unfortunately, we too often see excellent technical or physical design features being introduced into schools without them being aligned with effective policy and procedures or supported by training.  

Where we see this occur most commonly is in schools that have attempted to create secure entryways. 

Often, we will find that the entryways have all the necessary technical and physical components to allow for the effective, safe vetting of visitors into the school. But in many cases, all those components, specifically the intercom feature, are not being routinely utilized. As a result, all the resources that were expended to create a safe entryway went to creating an expensive doorbell. Without training on how to use the new feature or make changes to your operational procedures, you risk losing the benefit of that specific upgrade.  

The introduction of the “stuff” that comes along with security upgrade projects is not the endgame. 

The endgame only comes when the “stuff’ is paired with policy and procedures and training.

As always, safety is our top priority. If you would like more information, please reach out to us at [email protected]

A common mistake made when upgrading security systems is making one size fits all or cookie cutter upgrades to each of your schools. Each school is unique and therefore should receive unique solutions.

As always, safety is our top priority. If you would like more information, please reach out to us at [email protected]

SEC has had the privilege of working with hundreds of schools throughout the country to enhance their prevention and readiness strategies related to school safety and security. Some of the opportunities we find the most satisfying are ones we are allowed to be involved from the very beginning when a school is starting the process of developing and executing a plan associated with a significant security upgrade project. When these opportunities present themselves, one of the first things we recommend to our clients is they take the time to make sure they have a very clear understanding of their threat landscape, the risk priorities and tolerances, and their current vulnerability exposures.

At SEC, when we think about threats from a physical security perspective, we focus on the human, natural, or mechanical/structural things that have the potential to cause us harm.

  • Human – Assault, Robbery
  • Natural – Hurricane, Tornado
  • Mechanical/Structural – Gas Leak, Building Collapse
  • When we think about risk, we are assessing the likelihood of something bad occurring and the potential impact if it did occur. For example, active shooter events in schools are, statistically speaking, relatively rare occurrences, but we also know that when they do occur, they can be incredibly devasting.

    It is not only important to examine our clients’ risk profile, but also their risk tolerances as well. Many factors can impact risk tolerance, but the most common factors are budget, culture, and convenience. If a recommended security solution is too expensive, too cumbersome, or would result in a significant change to the school’s environment or operations, it is likely that solution will not be adopted or will be adopted in a way that results in the client not receiving the maximum benefit from the solution.

    Vulnerabilities are the gaps, weaknesses, or soft spots that can allow a threat to cause harm if it arises.

    These can be identified by doing a granular assessment of the school’s existing physical and technical design features and a thorough review of existing operating and emergency policy procedures.

    By taking the time to get a better understanding of your school’s unique threat landscape, risk profile, and vulnerability exposures, you will be ensuring that the decisions you make related to your safety and security upgrades will be both well informed and well prioritized.

    As always, safety is our top priority. If you would like more information, please reach out to us at [email protected].

    At SEC, we have been gratified to see so many of our educational partners be able to begin the process of returning to in-person instruction. Speaking with several of our clients, we have learned that they have recently had the good fortune to access additional financial resources through grants, bonds, and other mechanisms, allowing them to upgrade their safety and security-related assets.

    Many of these clients have expressed some uncertainty about the best way to make decisions on how to get the most value out of these resources and how to prioritize the order in which these safety and security upgrade projects are initiated. 

    One of the most common mistakes we see is decision-makers focusing on the safety and security solutions without first genuinely understanding their safety and security challenges. We often use the comparison of going to the pharmacist to get a prescription filled without having visited a doctor to see what your diagnosis is.

    Therefore, over the next several weeks, we will be guiding you on how to maximize the benefits of these additional resources and how to maintain the value of these other resources in the months and years to come. In doing so, we will focus on the following three areas:

    1. Understanding the differences between threat, vulnerability, and risk
      Although oftentimes used interchangeably, these three elements are unique. As a result, when identifying and addressing your safety and security needs, it is critically important to gain a clear understanding of your unique threat landscape, risk priorities and tolerances, and vulnerability exposures.

    2. Avoiding the pitfalls of taking a “cookie-cutter” or “one size fits all” approach
      The location of your school, the size of your school, and the age of your students are just some of the many factors that can contribute to your school’s unique threat, risk, and vulnerability profile. Because your profile is unique, common sense dictates that the solutions related to your profile should also be unique.

    3. Installation and initial implementation are NOT the finish line
      When a new safety and security resource is introduced into your school, staff members who will have a role in utilizing that resource must be properly trained on how to do so. Furthermore, suppose the introduction of the resource results in a need to develop new or update existing emergency procedures or operating policies. In that case, it is recommended this is completed prior to installation.

    We’re excited that the new school year is here, and that many institutions are returning to in-person learning. With that excitement comes some caution, as the new academic year can bring with it some new safety and security challenges. Please know that we are a resource that you can use to help with these challenges.

    As always, safety is our top priority. If you would like more information, please reach out to us at [email protected].